Cattle brand inspection fee increase advanced

The cattle brand inspection fee in Nebraska could be increased under a bill amended and advanced April 20.

Introduced by Hyannis Sen. Al Davis, LB85 originally would have permitted the Nebraska Brand Committee to charge as much as $1.25 per head for cattle brand inspections. The bill was amended to cap the new fee at $1.10. Currently, the fee is capped at 75 cents per head.

The brand committee inspects cattle and investigates missing and stolen cattle in Nebraska. The organization is funded solely through the collection of fees for those services.

Davis said a combination of declining cattle sales and rising inspection costs have decreased the committee’s cash reserve. Fees must be increased, he said, to ensure that the committee can update its data collection technology and raise salaries to retain employees.

“The branding committee must be funded adequately to do its job,” Davis said.

An amendment brought by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, adopted 29-1, would place a $1.10 per head limit on the inspection fee.

Bloomfield said the 66 percent increase originally proposed in the bill was too large, and that he and Davis reached a compromise that would limit the committee to a maximum 46 percent fee increase.

Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg opposed the bill. He said some of the state’s largest cattle feedlots are located in his district and would be hit hard by an inspection fee increase. Because one of the operations in his district pays $100,000 for inspections that take only a few days to complete, he said, alternatives to the current inspection pricing process should be considered.

“I would contend that there needs to be more thought and more study put into this,” Williams said.

Heartwell Sen. John Kuehn supported the bill, saying the branding committee deserves to be funded because it performs a critical function when confirming animal ownership.

“Hot iron branding is the keystone of identifying animals for the livestock industry in Nebraska,” Kuehn said.

Senators advanced the bill from general file on a 28-2 vote.

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